"Hawk" (Chicago wind) and DOWN BEAT stories

Wilson Gray wilson.gray at RCN.COM
Sun Feb 6 04:38:28 UTC 2005

"The Hawk" as a name for the wind isn't restricted to Chicago. If
anything, this usage is peculiar to black people in general. Colored
folk all over the country use "The Hawk" when referring to an
uncomfortably cold wind. When I was in grade school (1942-1950) in St.
Louis, we used the expression, "The Hawk talks!" to describe what it's
like on a cold, windy, winter's day. When the occasion demanded it, we
said, "The Hawk is talkin'.'" By the time that I was in high school,
some people said "Hawkins is talkin'," presumably to regain a
near-rhyme like that in the original - in my experience - expression.

In any case, whatever the origin of the term, it was heard everywhere
in my youth, without any reference at all to Chicago. Later, in the
'60's there was a song by Rawls in which he says in the spoken intro,
"The Hawk. The almighty Hawk." I think that he may have, in this song,
connected "The Hawk" and Chicago. I didn't like the song, so I didn't
pay enough attention to it to be able to remember it completely.

-Wilson Gray

On Feb 5, 2005, at 10:24 PM, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Bapopik at AOL.COM
> Subject:      "Hawk" (Chicago wind) and DOWN BEAT stories
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
> --------
> DOWN BEAT was published in Chicago, so I thought it might be a good
> place to look for "the Hawk" or "Hawkins"--the name of Chicago's (the
> Windy City's) wind.
> My search stopped at the end of 1941, and I did NOT see "the hawk." I
> just realized that NYU has DOWN BEAT, so I'll be able to check
> tomorrow...A book listing Erskine Hawkins' recordings did not mention
> "the hawk."
> DARE has "hawk" from 1946, Mezzrow-Wolfe REALLY BLUES. There's a 1966
> citation from black singer Lou Rawls. Four 1970s cites are given, all
> from "Black Jargon." From the 1981 DARE File: "The hawk--nickname for
> a cold wind. In the late 30's there was a great trumpet-player,
> Erskine Hawkins, with a big band; he was called the '20th Century
> Gabriel'--he was said to blow a 'cold blast.'"
> First, Erskine Hawkins barely recorded by the late 30's. Early 40's is
> almost certainly correct.
> Second, there were TWO "hawks." "The Hawk" was Coleman Hawkins, who
> played sax. Erskine Hawkins played trumpet. I'll try to go through
> DOWN BEAT (Chicago) 1942-1946 tomorrow and sort eagle-eye for "hawk."
> If I find anything, I will beg the Chicago Tribune for the next eight
> years, and they'll publish it in 2013 without credit. It will probably
> make the Encyclopedia of Chicago's online edition, where I won't get
> credit, either.
> Maybe there's someone in Chicago named Mike Salovesh who'll apreciate
> it.
> -------------------------------------------------------------
> 1 October 1939, DOWN BEAT, pg. 4, cols. 1-2 headline:
> _The Life and Death of Clarence_
> _Smith, Creator of Boogie Woogie_
> (Long "Pinetop" article--ed.)
> 1 November 1939, DOWN BEAT, pg. 6, col. 1:
> _Illiterate Sign_
> _Painter Coined_
> _The Term "Jazz"_
> (Too long to type. It involves Boisey James at The Schiller (Cafe),
> Thirty-first street amd Calumet avenue.
> Pg. 6, col. 5:
> _"Kelly Not the One"_
> The late Henry O. Osgood, in his book _So This Is Jazz_, credits Bert
> Kelly of Chicago with having (Pg. 7, col. 1--ed.) introducced the term
> _Jazz band_ in 1915. Kelly himself assumes the honor, but it is
> significant that the site of Kelly's operations was but a matter of
> blocks to State Street and the Schiller.
> (...)
> (col. 4--ed.)
> As this issue of the _Digest_ (Literary Digest jazz articles of August
> 25, 1917 and April 26, 1919--ed.) was distributed, it met the eye of
> Lucius C. Harper present editor of the Chicago _Defender_ and at that
> time a member of the city staff. Harper who has an uncommonly (Col.
> 5--ed.) accurate memory tells me that Jim Europe, recently returned
> from triumpha abroad, was playing the old Auditorium Hotel in Chicago
> at the time the article appeared. When Harper showed the bandmaster
> the _Digest_ article Europe denied having expressed himself as quoted.
> "My knowledge of it" he told Harper "is that it was started right here
> in Chicago by old Boisey James at the Schiller."
> 1 November 1939, DOWN BEAT, pg. 21, col. 4:
> It's action like this that caused the term "out of this world" to be
> introduced into Americans' vocabularies.
> 15 February 1940, DOWN BEAT, pg. 12 headline:
> _The Saxophone Was Invented by Accident!_
> _And Will Marion Cook Was the_
> _First ti Use it in Jazz Band_
> (1840-1940 history of saxophone--ed.)
> 15 March 1940, DOWN BEAT, pg. 18, col. 3:
> _Petrillo Now_
> _At War With_
> _"Pancake" Men_
> Chicago--James C. Petrillo's latest stand in his battle to eliminate
> canned music is aimed at electrical transcription and record turntable
> ops in the Chicago area. He calls them "pancake turners."
> ("DJs"--ed.)
> 1 April 1940, DOWN BEAT, pg. 6, cols. 1-3:
> _"Splinterbugs" Nude Feet Thrill Miami!_
> _Name Bands Flop as "Raw Dog"_
> _Dancing and Congas Catch on_
> 1 July 1940, DOWN BEAT, pg. 5, cols. 1-2:
> _"Hog Mouth Was So_
> _Powerful He Could_
> _Play Your Name"_
> Chicago--Jasper Taylor is the man who first used a washboard in a jazz
> band.
> And he was and still is a good drummer. Starting with W. C. Handy in
> Memphis in 1913, Taylor came to Chicago in 1916 and made records for
> Paramount and other labels with Jimmy O'Brien, Jelly Roll Morton and
> others. In France, during the war, Taylor played drums in the 365th
> Infantry band. Later, he played with WIll Marion Cook's now-famous
> combo at the Clef Club, New York.
> Later, he played with Dave Peyton's Grand Theater irk here, and also
> at the Plantation with King Oliver, in 1923.
> Here are some of Taylor's prize memories:
> "In 1917," says he, "a clarinetist named William Phillips came to
> Chicago to play John Wreckliffe's orchestra. They called him 'Hog
> Mouth' because his lips measured an inch and a half in thickness.
> Because his lips were exception strong it was possible for him to
> execute unusual tones and sounds, both harsh and beautiful, from his
> clarinet. So remarkable was his control that he would, or could, call
> out person's names in an audience on his instrument. He is the
> originator of the expression _'That's All'_ that was used by bands in
> the twenties. This term was used to sign off or end a dance. All bands
> used this at that time. But the remarkable feature was that Phillips
> not only originated it but expressed these words on his instrument
> when other depended on verbal expression of the term.
> "Phillips also originated the 'jackass bray' in such numbers as
> _Livery Stable Blues_, etc. It happened thus:
> "One day when featured with 'A G. Allen's Minstrel Band,' he was doing
> a solo out front of the tent show when a farmer's jackass interrupted
> with a long and loud bray. Phillips replied to the donkey with a
> clarinet bray that brought laughs and applause. Result, he kept
> braying in his solo. He played New Orleans and later used his jackass
> bray in _Livery Stable Blues_."
> 1 September 1940, DOWN BEAT, pg. 21, cols. 1-4 headline:
> _Eddie Chase, Wax Disc Maestro, Is a Very Busy Man These Days_
> (No "disc jockey" for this story about WGN's "Make-Believe
> Ballroom"--ed.)
> 15 November 1940, DOWN BEAT, pg. 4, cols. 1-3 headline:
> _"We'll Starve the Mickey Mouse Bands"_
> 15 February 1941, DOWN BEAT, pg. (illegible), cols. 1-2 headline:
> _Norvo Unappreciated Genius--Frazier_
> _Cusses "Handlers who_
> _Screw Things Royally_
> (SCREWED + ROYALLY=51,700 Google hits. HDAS?--ed.)
> 15 March 1941, DOWN BEAT, pg. 13, cols. 1-2:
> _Ask L.A. Radio Stations to_
> _Use AFM "Pancake-Turners"_
> (...)
> The headache will arrive in the form of a contemplated drive by Local
> 47 to install union musicians as record turners or "pan cake flippers"
> in Los Angeles radio stations.
> 1 June 1941, DOWN BEAT, pg. 1, cols. 3-4 headline:
> _Uncle Sam May_
> _"Sock It" to Musicians_
> 1 July 1941, DOWN BEAT, pg. 6, cols. 4-5 headline:
> _Artie Shaw Tales: the "Bingle,"_
> _The "Snark," and the "Snorf"_
> 1 October 1941, DOWN BEAT, pg. 3, cols. 1-2 headline:
> _Lionel Hampton Plans 4 Fiddles,_
> _Cello to "Carve Dinner Sessions"_
> (HDAS has 1943 for "carve--ed.)
> 1 October 1941, DOWN BEAT, pg. 14, col. 1:
> ONE OF THE REALLY great records of the months appears under the Will
> Bradley-Ray McKinley billing, and peculiarly enough contains a
> generous portion of the orchestrated boogie-woogie figures which this
> corner on previous occasions has branded as synthetic and unsuitable.
> But Bradley's "Six Texas Hot Dogs" unquestionably hit the proper
> groove when they cut _Basin Street Boogie_ on Col. 36340.
> 1 October 1941, DOWN BEAT, pg. 17, col. 1:
> If you can't get _mad_ and press them out you really are a ten o'clock
> performer.
> ("Doubling in Brass" by John O'Donnell: "Compare Chops to Sidewalk,
> Says John"--ed.)
> 15 October 1941, DOWN BEAT, pg. 13, cols. 1-3 headline:
> _Andy Kirk Band Sends Me--Frazier_
> 15 November 1941, DOWN BEAT, pg. 10, cols. 3-4 cartoon:
> JOE BLOW and His Orchestra
> (Name on tour bus--ed.)

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